Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cutting the Cord

In a woman's life there are some things that are practically guaranteed. Having a conflicted relationship with mom is one of them.

I mentioned a few posts back that my mother and me are estranged, which is nothing new since we go through estrangements at least once every couple of years. This one's pretty serious and complicated, though - so complicated that I have told my mother I believe we need to go into therapy together to work out our problems and learn how to communicate effectively with each other (she refuses, of course, lest she wouldn't be my mother).

Anyway, the other day I was taking a walk at lunch time with a co-worker. She's a new mom (her baby is about 1 year old) and we got to talking about our mothers. Turns out she has a very similar conflicted and dysfunctional relationship with her mother and as we traded stories about our latest upheavals, we realized how similar our situations are.

Here's the difference, though. Because I don't have children, my break from my mother is clean. When I need to be estranged from my mom - when her toxicity and emotional abuse are more than I can take - I can truly be away from her. My friend, on the other hand, is bound to her mother by her child. No matter what kind of problem she has with mother, she still must make it work - at least on the surface - so that her child's relationship with grandmom is not compromised.

I have siblings who have children and they are tethered to my mom. They rely on her for babysitting (she's their daycare center) so no matter what dysfunctional B.S. my mother heaps upon them, their mouths must stay zipped, lest they lose all the granny benefits.

Granted, this benefit of being able to be fully estranged from a parent isn't the type of childfree benefit one might shout from the rooftops. After all, it's not a joy to be estranged from mom and certainly not what I would prefer. But sometimes it is needed, like now. And if I had a child, I guarantee you I would be this.much.closer to snapping.

4 comments:

childfreelife said...

Here here! My story is identical, except neither my brother nor I have children--or plan to--so when mom goes psycho, we can cut her off.

Me said...

My mom is f*cked up too. My siblings and my father and I believe she has borderline personality disorder. My father has been divorcing my mom for the last 5 or so years. (She's endeavoring to make it as difficult as possible for him.) I haven't talked to my mom in a similar length of time. My little brother is only 20 and he goes for months without talking to her, then feels sorry for her and will talk to her only to repeat the cycle. My sister has two kids. She is the only one who interacts with my mom on a regular basis. I always pegged this on my sister's nature since my evil mom certainly doesn't do anything as benevolent as babysit. But maybe the cause is a little deeper and is perhaps related to the grandkid link? Hmmm....

Childfreeeee said...

Childfreelife and Me,

It's good to hear I am not the only person in this situation. Isn't it sad when the person who gave birth to you and raised you is the same person you want to cut out of your life?

Just goes to show that having children does not guarantee having someone to be around in old age.

Chibi said...

I reaize this is quite an old post, but I just had to say I'd never quite thought about it that way. My relationship with my parents is often suffocating, and when I move out, I know I'll want to have a period where I have as little contact with them as possible. I never considered the fact that if I had children, it would force me to have contact whether I wanted to or not. Interesting point (and another reason for me not to have kids). Yet another sacrifice parents must make for their children.